When a military member becomes injured, their whole world is turned upside down and they — along with their family members — are in need of support.
A non-profit founded in 2005 called The Yellow Ribbon Fund is an organization that aids wounded warriors and ill service members recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia. The organization offers lodging and transportation for family, events on-base and off to help handle the stress and anxiety that come along with emergency financial help, plus mentoring for success in post-military life.
Gina Harrow, who oversees the Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Caregiver, is the wife of Captain Ben Harrow, U.S. Army Special Forces and a double amputee West Point graduate.
When Gina’s husband was gravely injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) in May 2012, she rushed to his side where he was being treated at Walter Reed, leaving behind her 14-month-old son in the care of her parents.
Gina recalled the days in the hospital with her husband as he fought for his life.
“I slept by his side in a chair and would keep track of doctors, nurses and everyone that passed through his door. Ben was fighting four bacterial and two fungal infections, which kept infecting healthy tissue, and let’s face it, when you have only a half of a leg to work with, it becomes a numbers game on how many inches you can keep to hold a prosthetic in place,” Gina said.
Ben was able to make enough of a recovery to return home. Once Ben was settled at home, Gina had the itch to go back to work, and found herself with the opportunity to work for the YRF.
“When I took the position, we were only offering services at Walter Reed and Fort Campbell. In the two years I’ve been there, we have expanded to Southern California, Northern California, eastern Tenn., central Ky., San Antonio, Texas, and Fort Belvoir, Va.,” she said.
“We have created a private fitness group that offers caregivers a place of inspiration and motivation to help with healthy lifestyle options, healthy recipes, and fitness routines,” she continued. “We have also redefined the YRF Caregiver Program, and now affectionately call it the Keystone program to recognize how important the caregiver truly is in the recovery process, and we continue to expand our reach and offerings through partnering with other organizations with similar missions. “
The mother has found immense intrinsic value in her new career path.
“I am grateful I have the opportunity to have a job that allows me to give back to a community that has become family to me.”
For Gina, her greatest message for families going through the difficult journey of coping with injury and sickness is “to let them know they are not alone and there are people who know exactly what they are going through. To offer hope when at times it feels like there is nothing but despair.”
The YRF will be hosting an event on February 21 called “Duty and Devotion,” where it will host wounded, injured service members, veterans and their Caregivers for a ‘date night’ while raising awareness and charitable donations for their organization at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. To get tickets or make a donation visit their website http://www.yellowribbonfund.org/donate